St. Luke's opens new transitional care center

Facility designed for short-term recovery, rehabilitation

Dr. Clete Younger, UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids skilled nursing facility medical director, talks about the new transit
Dr. Clete Younger, UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids skilled nursing facility medical director, talks about the new transitional care center that St. Luke’s opened Aug. 26 in northeast Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)


CEDAR RAPIDS — In late 2017, UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids officials announced plans to build a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in northeast Cedar Rapids.

Called St. Luke’s Center for Healthy Living, the $14.9 million facility would provide short-term recovery and rehabilitation space.

It’s designed as a transitional space for patients who don’t necessarily need care in an acute hospital setting but are not well enough to return home. That includes patients recovering from a broken hip, a stroke, heart failure and other medical conditions that require hospital stays.

Located off Council Street NE, the transitional care center would be licensed for 48 beds and would include an outpatient therapy gym “with the latest medical and rehabilitative technology,” according to a news release at the time of the announcement.

What’s Happened Since

St. Luke’s Helen G. Nassif Transitional Care Center opened Aug. 26 and is beginning to treat patients. The center is at 1420 UnityPoint Way NE, which is north of Boyson Road, just off Council Street NE.

“There’s nothing like this in Eastern Iowa and across our entire health system,” said Dr. Clete Younger, UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids skilled nursing facility medical director. “We really want to make our community healthier, and this is a tool that’s going to allow us to do that. So we’re really excited about that.”

The space is dedicated to patients who require skilled nursing and rehabilitation following an injury, surgery or other major medical condition that requires hospitalization.

Those patients typically would stay in the hospital until they recovered, but Younger said insurance companies in recent years have been pushing health systems to limit hospital stays to only a few days.


Peg Bradke, vice president of patient transitions and experience at UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids, said the hospital also recognized hospital stays were decreasing because of increased outpatient care.

“We want to be positioned for the future that we have a place for those patients when their insurance company says ‘your length of stay in the hospital is over,’ ” Bradke said. “We want to make sure that we have that transitional time for them. So we’re looking to the future.”

Traditionally, such patients would receive short-term care in nursing homes, Younger said.

Officials initially plan to take in patients from St. Luke’s Living Center East, the hospital’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation center at 1220 Fifth Ave. SE, which is closing in late September.

The Living Center East building was bought by the Catherine McAuley Center.

New Horizons, a group living facility for individuals with disabilities that require nursing supervision, also had been located in Living Center East and will be moving to new facilities built by Rem Iowa.

St. Luke’s continues to operate Living Center West, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility at 1050 Fourth Ave. SE, where the average stay is 22 days.

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